Whose Heritage and Whose Land?
August 20, 1997
Last week in Philadelphia I stopped by to revisit Independence Hall, the cradle of
our republic where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the United States
Constitution was written. Something new has been added since the last time I saw it: a
large bronze plaque with a peculiar inscription under a unidentified insignia.
"Through the collective recognition of the community of nations expressed within
the principles of the convention concerning protection of the world cultural and natural
heritage, Independence Hall has been designated a World Heritage Site and joins a select
list of protected areas around the world whose outstanding natural and cultural resources
form the common inheritance of all mankind."
(Select above picture for larger view)
Whew! Where did all that mumbo-jumbo come from? Obviously not from
American history or our founding documents.
"Common inheritance of all mankind"? No way. Our Declaration of
Independence and Constitution are both uniquely American, written by identifiable
Founding Fathers on American soil at known points in time.
Independence Hall "joins a select list of protected areas around the world"? Who
decided that Independence Hall should "join" anything? It is a unique American treasure.
And who is protecting these "protected areas"?
"Collective recognition of the community of nations"? It's obvious that all those
foreign nations don't agree with our American Declaration or Constitution or the
Since it is impossible to relive history and give the "collective" or the "community
of nations" any ownership in the historic events that made Independence Hall an
American shrine, we can only deduce that some international entity is asserting a vested
interest in the building. Who authorized that?
After all, it would have been a nice accolade and not worthy of particular comment
if the Independence Hall plaque merely said, "The United Nations honors the cradle of
American freedom, the inspired words of the Declaration of Independence, and the genius
of the United States Constitution that has nourished liberty in America for more than two
centuries." But it didn't.
We now find that at least 20 pieces of American property have been designated as
"World Heritage Sites" and so identified with markers. These include Yellowstone and
Yosemite national parks, the Grand Canyon, Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello, and,
believe it or not, the Statue of Liberty. All of these markings took place without any
publicity, without the American people knowing what was going on.
The designation of these World Heritage Sites was authorized by the World
Heritage Convention, a treaty signed by President Nixon and ratified in 1973. The World
Heritage Program is carried out by UNESCO, which the United States hasn't belonged to
since President Reagan pulled us out because it was totally corrupt.
The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program was created in 1970. The United
States joined in 1974 when our State Department signed a memorandum of understanding
(not a treaty) to put us in the Biosphere Program and pledge that the United States will
adhere to the Biosphere conditions and limitations laid down by UNESCO.
Paragraph 44 of the World Heritage Operational Guidelines states that "natural"
Heritage Sites (as contrasted to "cultural") can be interchanged with "core reserves" of
the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program. These core protected areas are planned to
be surrounded by highly regulated buffer zones, all for the sake of "biodiversity."
At a conference in Spain in 1995 that culminated in the Seville Strategy, the
Biosphere Program underwent a radical change in purpose. The first goal of the Seville
Strategy for Biosphere Reserves is to "promote biosphere reserves as a means of
implementing the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity."
U.S. State Department representatives agreed to this new framework of UNESCO-designated guidelines and objectives for the Man and Biosphere Program. So, even
though the United States doesn't belong to UNESCO, and even though the U.S. Senate
refused to ratify the Biodiversity Treaty, the United States is marching right ahead with
UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program.
Starting with Yellowstone National Park in 1979, UNESCO has designated 47
Biosphere Reserves in the United States covering 50 million acres. In order to designate
sites and spheres under either of these UNESCO programs, the United States must agree
to manage these lands according to international dictates and objectives.
That's another way of saying that the United States has agreed to limit our
sovereignty to manage our own lands any way we want in pursuit of our own national
interests. The Clinton Administration's designation of Yellowstone as a World Heritage
Site "in danger" has already been used to shut down a gold mine near (not in)
The UN/UNESCO types have made no secret of their goals. Their next step is
their Wildlands Project, a plan to designate one half of the United States as "protected
areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity."
If American citizens are allowed any sayso, my guess is that the overwhelming
majority would say that we don't need or want any UN/UNESCO bureaucrats telling us
how to "protect" our own land. We can jolly well handle our own protection.
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